200+ Lao Tzu Quotes – Best Quotes To Inspire Greatness

(Last Updated On: January 28, 2024)

Lao Tzu was a wise ancient philosopher from China who started Taoism. His wisdom still inspires people to do great things.

In this article, we explore the most popular quotes by Lao Tzu, discovering their wise messages and how they can inspire greatness in us.

Lao Tzu’s quotes touch upon themes of simplicity, harmony, and the power of the Tao (the Way). They offer guidance on how to lead a meaningful life, find inner peace, and cultivate the virtues that teach greatness. Lao Tzu’s quotes can advise those unsure to seek personal growth or aspire to become better leaders.

Come and join us as we discover the best quotes that can inspire greatness from Lao Tzu. His ancient wisdom can help you uncover your abilities and live a meaningful and vital life. Lao Tzu’s teachings hold equal significance in modern times as they did in the past. They can inspire anyone, no matter the period.

Most Popular Lao Tzu Quotes

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. – Lao Tzu


By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond the winning. ~ Lao Tzu


It makes your mind uptime.  Are you willing, really willing just to let go of all those conditioned beliefs you’ve been hanging on to since you were knee-high to a grasshopper? – Lao Tzu


The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. – Lao Tzu


When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you. – Lao Tzu



Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich. – Lao Tzu


He who conquers others is strong; He who conquers himself is mighty.  – Lao Tzu


To a mind that is still the whole universe surrenders. –  Lao Tzu


Emptiness appears barren yet is infinite fullness – Lao Tzu


Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. – Lao Tzu


A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving. – Lao Tzu


When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. – Lao Tzu


When the people of the world all know beauty as beauty, there arises the recognition of ugliness. When they all know the good as good, There arises the recognition of evil. – Lao Tzu


When one gives whatever one can without restraint, the barriers of individuality break down. It no longer becomes possible to tell whether it is the student offering himself to the teacher, or the teacher offering herself to the student. One sees only two immaculate beings, reflecting one another like a pair of brilliant mirrors. – Lao Tzu


Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner. – Lao Tzu


The Way to do is to be. – Lao Tzu


Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know. – Lao Tzu


The wise man does not lay up his own treasures. The more he gives to others, the more he has for his own. – Lao Tzu


New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings. –  Lao Tzu

The heart that gives, gathers. –  Lao Tzu


Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be the reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. -Lao Tzu


He who is contented is rich. –  Lao Tzu


If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place. – Lao Tzu


To know yet to think that one does not know is best; Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty. –  Lao Tzu


Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. – Lao Tzu


The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself. – Lao Tzu


The truth is not always beautiful, nor beautiful words the truth. – Lao Tzu


A man with outward courage dares to die: a man with inner courage dares to live. –  Lao Tzu


If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. – Lao Tzu


 From caring comes courage. – Lao Tzu


If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present. – Lao Tzu


Accomplish but do not boast, accomplish without the show, accomplish without arrogance, accomplish without grabbing, accomplish without forcing. –  Lao Tzu


Therefore the Master acts without doing anything and teaches without saying anything. Things arise and she lets them come; things disappear and she lets them go. She has but doesn’t possess acts but doesn’t expect. When her work is done, she forgets it. That is why it lasts forever. – Lao Tzu


If you’re still in a state of fear, overwhelm, worry, guilt, or shame it’s time, time to move on, to let go of all those old habits of thinking and being. –– Lao Tzu


Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. – Lao Tzu


He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough. – Lao Tzu


Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage. – Lao Tzu


One who is too insistent on his own views, finds few to agree with him. – Lao Tzu


Great acts are made up of small deeds. – Lao Tzu


To see things in the seed, that is genius. – Lao Tzu


Silence is a source of great strength. – Lao Tzu


c, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. – Lao Tzu


At the center of your being, you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want. –Lao Tzu


Life and death are one thread, the same line viewed from different sides. – Lao Tzu


Go to the people. Live with them. Learn from them. Love them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. But with the best leaders, when the work is done, the task accomplished, the people will say We have done this ourselves. —Lao Tzu


Stop thinking, and end your problems.
– Lao Tzu


Music in the soul can be heard by the universe. – Lao Tzu 


 Time is a created thing. To say “I don’t have time” is like saying, “I don’t want to.  – Lao Tzu 


He who talks more is sooner exhausted. -Lao Tzu


Advise the ruler to govern the state as one cooks a small fish – that is, don’t turn it so often in the pan that it disintegrates. – Lao Tzu


A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar. – Lao Tzu


Treat those who are good with goodness, and also treat those who are not good with goodness. Thus goodness is attained. Be honest to those who are honest, and be also honest to those who are not honest. Thus honesty is attained. -Lao Tzu


Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it. –  Lao Tzu


Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires. –  Lao Tzu


Ambition has one heel nailed in well, though she stretches her fingers to touch the heavens. –  Lao Tzu


The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness. – Lao Tzu


Indwelling, live close to the ground. In thinking, keep to the simple. In conflict, be fair and generous. In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. – Lao Tzu


Who acts in stillness finds stillness in his life. – Lao Tzu


If the Great Way perishes there will morality and duty. When cleverness and knowledge arise great lies will flourish. When relatives fall out with one another there will be filial duty and love. When states are in confusion there will be faithful servants. – Lao Tzu


 Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. – Lao Tzu


Health is the greatest possession. Contentment is the greatest treasure. Confidence is the greatest friend. Non-being is the greatest joy. –– Lao Tzu


Act without expectation. –– Lao Tzu


He who clings to his work will create nothing that endures. –– Lao Tzu


Slow down a little and enjoy the blessings of the life we have. -– Lao Tzu


I have three treasures. Guard and keep them: The first is deep love, the second is frugality, and the third is not to dare to be ahead of the world. Because of deep love, one is courageous. Because of frugality, one is generous. Because of not daring to be ahead of the world, one becomes the leader of the world. – Lao Tzu


Truthful words are not beautiful; beautiful words are not truthful. Good words are not persuasive; persuasive words are not good. – Lao Tzu




Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world. – Lao Tzu


Man’s enemies are not demons, but human beings like himself. – Lao Tzu


The mark of a moderate man
is freedom from his own ideas.
Tolerant like the sky,
all-pervading like sunlight,
a firm like a mountain,
supple like a tree in the wind,
he has no destination in view
and makes use of anything life happens to bring his way. – Lao Tzu


Manage affairs before they are in a mess. – Lao Tzu


Act without striving. Work without interfering. Find the flavor in what is flavorless.Lao Tzu


An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox. – Lao Tzu


Find a teacher who is an integral being, a beacon who extends his light and virtue with equal ease to those who appreciate him and those who don’t. Shape yourself in his mold, bathe in his nourishing radiance, and reflect it out to the rest of the world.—Lao Tzu


Because of great love, one is courageous.
– Lao Tzu


Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles, and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself? – Lao Tzu 


We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want. – Lao Tzu 


Sincere words are not fine; fine words are not sincere. –Lao Tzu


Tao invariably takes no action, and yet there is nothing left undone. – Lao Tzu


Love is of all passions the strongest, for it attacks simultaneously the head, the heart and the senses. – Lao Tzu


 All difficult things have their origin in that which is easy, and great things in that which is small.Lao Tzu


When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves. – Lao Tzu


Be still like a mountain, and flow like a great river. – Lao Tzu


In the world, there is nothing more submissive and weak than water. Yet for attacking that which is hard and strong nothing can surpass it. – Lao Tzu


Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy. – Lao Tzu


People in their handlings of affairs often fail when they are about to succeed. If one remains as careful at the end as he was at the beginning, there will be no failure. – Lao Tzu


If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve. – Lao Tzu


Use the light that is within you to revert to your natural clearness of sight. – Lao Tzu


 The softest things in the world overcome the hardest things in the world. – Lao Tzu


If you understand others you are smart. If you understand yourself you are illuminated. If you overcome others you are powerful. If you overcome yourself you have strength. If you know how to be satisfied you are rich. If you can act with vigor, you have the will. If you don’t lose your objectives you can be long-lasting. If you die without loss, you are eternal. – Lao Tzu


Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her. – Lao Tzu


If you want to be given everything, give everything up. – Lao Tzu


For the wise man looks into space and he knows there are no limited dimensions. – Lao Tzu


 If a person seems wicked, do not cast him away. Awaken him with your words, elevate him with your deeds, repay his injury with your kindness. Do not cast him away; cast away his wickedness. – Lao Tzu


When virtue is lost, benevolence appears, when benevolence is lost right conduct appears when right conduct is lost, expedience appears. Expediency is the mere shadow of right and truth; it is the beginning of disorder.Lao Tzu




The flame that burns Twice as bright burns half as long. – Lao Tzu


He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still. – Lao Tzu


 A man with outward courage dares to die.
A man with inward courage dares to live. – Lao Tzu


The skillful speaker says nothing that can be found fault with or blamed; – Lao Tzu


He who tries to shine dims his own light. – Lao Tzu


Be the chief but never the lord.Lao Tzu


In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired. In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped. —Lao Tzu


Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment. – Lao Tzu


What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly. – Lao Tzu 


 Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. – Lao Tzu 


Happiness is the absence of striving for happiness. -Lao Tzu


By accident of fortune, a man may rule the world for a time, but by virtue of love, he may rule the world forever. -Lao Tzu 


Peace is our original state. -Lao Tzu


It is better to do one’s own duty, however defective it may be than to follow the duty of another, however, well one may perform it. He who does his duty as his own nature reveals it never sins. -Lao Tzu


Of all that is good, sublimity is supreme. Succeeding is the coming together of all that is beautiful. Furtherance is the agreement of all that is just. Perseverance is the foundation of all actions. – Lao Tzu


To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day. – Lao Tzu


The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao; the name that can be named is not the eternal name. The Nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth; The Named is the mother of all things. – Lao Tzu


Do not look only at yourself, and you will see much. Do not justify yourself, and you will be distinguished. Do not brag, and you will have merit. Do not be prideful, and your work will endure. – Lao Tzu


Surrender your self-interest. Love others as much as you love yourself. Then you can be entrusted with all things under heaven. – Lao Tzu


 If you keep feeling a point that has been sharpened, the point cannot long preserve its sharpness. – Lao Tzu


Stop leaving and you will arrive. Stop searching and you will see. Stop running away and you will be found. – Lao Tzu


Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly

the principle of softness overcoming hardness. – Lao Tzu


One can not reflect in streaming water. Only those who know internal peace can give it to others.- Lao Tzu




I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize. The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men. – Lao Tzu


Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish. Do not overdo it. – Lao Tzu


 From wonder into wonder, existence opens. – Lao Tzu


He who is self-conceited has no superiority allowed to him. – Lao Tzu


 Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. – Lao Tzu


Your own positive future begins at this moment. All you have is right now. Every goal is possible from here. – Lao Tzu


Trying to shine you dim your own light. – Lao Tzu


The words of truth are always paradoxical. – Lao Tzu


Loss is not as bad as wanting more. – Lao Tzu


When a nation is filled with strife, then do patriots flourish. – Lao Tzu


If you value what I do, please support my work with a donation. – Lao Tzu


How could a decent person ever rejoice in victory and delight in the slaughter of men? – Lao Tzu


If you try to change it, you will ruin it. Try to hold it, and you will lose it. – Lao Tzu


Few things under heaven bring more benefits than the lessons learned from silence and the actions taken without striving. – Lao Tzu


The good man is the teacher of the bad, And the bad is the material from which the good may learn. He who does not value the teacher, Or greatly care for the material, Is greatly deluded although he may be learned. Such is the essential mystery. – Lao Tzu


The people are hungry: It is because those in authority eat up too much in taxes. – Lao Tzu


Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear. – Lao Tzu 


Governing a great nation is like cooking a small fish – too much handling will spoil it. – Lao Tzu 


 The hard and mighty lie beneath the ground. While the tender and weak dance on the breeze above. – Lao Tzu 


To lead people, walk beside them… As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next best, the people honor and praise. The next, the people fear; and the next, the people hate… When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves! – Lao Tzu 


The sage does not hoard. The more he helps others, the more he benefits himself, The more he gives to others, the more he gets himself. The Way of Heaven does one good but never does one harm. The Way of the sage is to act but not to compete. –  Lao Tzu


A man takes his law from the Earth; the Earth takes its law from Heaven; Heaven takes its law from the Tao. The law of the Tao is it’s being what it is. –  Lao Tzu


Wasting energy to obtain rare objects only impedes one’s growth. – Lao Tzu


Don’t forget to also read these powerful quotes from Machiavelli. – Lao Tzu


He who defines himself can’t know who he really is. – Lao Tzu


I do not concern myself with gods and spirits either good or evil nor do I serve any. – Lao Tzu


Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing. – Lao Tzu


The power of intuitive understanding will protect you from harm until the end of your days. – Lao Tzu


Give evil nothing to oppose
and it will disappear by itself. – Lao Tzu


Nature is not human hearted. – Lao Tzu


How could man rejoice in victory and delight in the slaughter of men? – Lao Tzu


When you accept yourself, the whole world accepts you. –Lao Tzu


The reason why the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself; it gives life to others as it transforms. – Lao Tzu


All things in the world come from being. And being comes from non-being. –  Lao Tzu


Without stirring abroad, One can know the whole world; Without looking out of the window One can see the way of heaven. The further one goes The less one knows. –  Lao Tzu


All streams flow to the sea because it is lower than they are. Humility gives it its power. –  Lao Tzu


The soft overcomes the hard. The slow overcomes the fast. –  Lao Tzu


Men are born soft and supple; dead they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail. –  Lao Tzu


There was something undifferentiated and yet complete, which existed before Heaven and Earth. Soundless and formless, it depends on nothing and does not change. It operates everywhere and is free from danger. It may be considered the mother of the universe. I do not know its name; I call it Tao. –  Lao Tzu


She does not show herself and therefore is apparent. She does not affirm herself and therefore is acknowledged. She does not boast and therefore has merit. She does not strive and therefore is successful. It is exactly because she does not contend, that nobody can contend with her. –  Lao Tzu


Those who flow as life flows know they need no other force. –  Lao Tzu


The career of a sage is of two kinds: He is either honored by all in the world, Like a flower waving its head, Or else he disappears into the silent forest. –  Lao Tzu


Remind yourself daily, there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. –Lao Tzu


The supreme excellence is not to win a hundred victories in a hundred battles. The supreme excellence is to subdue the armies of your enemies without even having to fight them. – Lao Tzu


The higher the sun ariseth, the less shadow doth he cast; even so the greater is the goodness, the less doth it covets praise; yet cannot avoid its rewards in honors. – Lao Tzu


What is a good man but a bad man’s teacher? What is a bad man but a good man’s job? ― Lao Tzu


If you want to shrink something, you must first allow it to expand. If you want to get rid of something, you must first allow it to flourish. If you want to take something, you must first allow it to be given. This is called the subtle perception of the way things are. ~ Lao Tzu


So the unwanting soul
sees what’s hidden,
and the ever-wanting soul
sees only what it wants. ~ Lao Tzu


Perfection is the willingness to be imperfect. ~ Lao Tzu


The True Person governs by emptying the heart of desire and filling the belly with food, weakening ambitions and strengthening bones. ~ Lao Tzu


He, who tries to shine, dims his own light. –Lao Tzu


He who has no faith in others shall find no faith in them. – Lao Tzu


There is no calamity greater than lavish desires. There is no greater guilt than discontentment. And there is no greater disaster than greed. – Lao Tzu


It is better to leave a vessel unfilled than to attempt to carry it when it is full. ― Lao Tzu


The great leader is he who the people say, ‘We did it ourselves. ― Lao Tzu


Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear. ― Lao Tzu


The True Person avoids extremes, self-indulgence, and extravagance. ― Lao Tzu


If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never be truly fulfilled.- Lao Tzu


The master dwells in the substantial and not in the superficial. Rests in the fruit and not in the flower. ― Lao Tzu


If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation. ― Lao Tzu


The wicked leader is he who the people despise. The good leader is he who the people revere. The great leader is he who the people say, ‘We did it ourselves. ― Lao Tzu


A terrace nine stories high begins with a pile of earth. -Lao Tzu


The best of all leaders is the one who helps people so that eventually they don’t need him. -Lao Tzu


If you want to know me, look inside your heart.know me, look inside your heart. -Lao Tzu


There is no greater offense than harboring desires. There is no greater disaster than discontent. There is no greater misfortune than wanting more. -Lao Tzu


Whoever can see through all fear, will always be safe. -Lao Tzu


If we could renounce our sageness and discard our wisdom, it would be better for the people a hundredfold. – Lao Tzu


Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity. – Lao Tzu


The ten thousand things flourish and then each returns to the root from which it came. Returning to the root is stillness. Through stillness, each fulfills its destiny. – Lao Tzu


Failure is an opportunity. – Lao Tzu


When there is silence one finds the anchor of the universe within oneself. ― Lao Tzu


He who acts spoils; he who grasps lets slip. ― Lao Tzu


Those who have the knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge. ― Lao Tzu


He, who rushes ahead, does not go far. – Lao Tzu


The ruler attains wholeness in the correct governance of the people. ― Lao Tzu


Be still
Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity. ― Lao Tzu


Weapons are not proper instruments for gentle people; they use them only when they have no other choice. Peace and quiet are what they value. They do not glory in victory. ― Lao Tzu


He, who defines himself, can’t know who he really is. – Lao Tzu


To avoid disappointment, know what is sufficient. To avoid trouble, know when to stop. If you are able to do this, you will last a long time. – Lao Tzu


There is no illusion greater than fear. – Lao Tzu


What is well-rooted cannot be pulled up. What is firmly grasped will not slip loose. It will be honored from generation to generation. – Lao Tzu


Always be on the lookout for ways to turn a problem into an opportunity for success. – Lao Tzu


Some lose yet to gain, others gain and yet lose. – Lao Tzu


Only fools seek power, and the greatest fools seek it through force.-Lao Tzu


What is firmly rooted cannot be pulled out. Lao Tzu


If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. – Lao Tzu


When goodness is lost there is morality. – Lao Tzu

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